Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Warriors’ down bedding could ease journey to realm of the dead

The boat graves are located 2 km north of Old Uppsala in Sweden.
Photo: Johan Anund, CC-BY-SA 3.0.

The burial field in Valsgärde outside Uppsala in central Sweden contains over 90 graves from the Iron Age.

“On a light note, we could say that Valsgärde is Scandinavia’s answer to Sutton Hoo in England as portrayed in the film The Dig on Netflix,” says Birgitta Berglund, professor emeritus of archaeology at the NTNU University Museum.

Valsgärde is especially known for its spectacular boat graves from the 600s and 700s CE. This timeframe is in the middle of what Norway calls the Merovingian period, the era just before the Viking Age.

Two of these spectacular boat graves are at the centre of this story – or more specifically the down bedding that was found in the graves are.

When researchers from NTNU investigated which birds contributed their feathers to the bedding, they made a surprising discovery that provides new insight into Iron Age society.

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Burrowing Bunnies in Wales Unearth Trove of Prehistoric Artifacts

The site of the rabbit burrow has apparently been occupied by different groups over the millennia. (Richard Brown and Giselle Eagle / WTSWW)

Scholars studying prehistoric life in Wales recently got an assist from an unexpected source. As Steven Morris reports for the Guardian, rabbits making a burrow on Skokholm Island, two miles off the coast of the southwest county of Pembrokeshire, dug up two Stone Age tools, as well as early Bronze Age pottery shards.

Richard Brown and Giselle Eagle, seabird experts who serve as wardens of the otherwise uninhabited island, spotted the objects and sent photographs of them to archaeological researchers. Looking at an image of one of the artifacts, Andrew David, an expert in prehistoric tools, identified it as a 6,000- to 9,000-year-old Mesolithic beveled pebble that was likely used to make seal skin–clad boats or prepare shellfish.

“Although these types of tools are well known on coastal sites on mainland Pembrokeshire and Cornwall, as well into Scotland and northern France, this is the first example from Skokholm, and the first firm evidence for Late Mesolithic occupation on the island,” says David in a statement.

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Iron Age warrior discovered at 'Scandinavia's answer to Sutton Hoo' was buried in a boat alongside a beheaded OWL and a down duvet 'to ease the journey to the realm of the dead'

Two 7th century warriors at an ancient burial ground in Sweden were laid to rest with comfy bedding stuffed with feathers from a variety of birds, research shows. 

New microscopic analysis of the bedding shows traces of feathers from local geese, ducks, grouse, crows, sparrows, waders and even eagle owls. 

The warriors were also buried in their boats with richly adorned helmets, shields and weapons and even gaming pieces, which, along with the several layers of bedding, would have eased the journey 'to the realm of the dead', according to researchers. 

Bizarrely, in one grave, an Eurasian eagle owl (Bubo bubo) had been laid with its head cut off – and the experts aren't entirely sure why. 

The graves are two of 15 that were uncovered and excavated by archaeologists in the 1920s in Valsgärde outside Uppsala in central Sweden.

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Early stone technologies found to be much older than researchers thought

Tools made of stone show the migratory patterns of early humans

Researchers from Kent’s School of Anthropology and Conservation have found that prehistoric Oldowan and Acheulean stone tool technologies are tens of thousands of years older than previously thought, according to a new study. 

The new study, which was published in the Journal of Human Evolution, claims that Oldowan stone tools were developed some 2.617-2.644 million years ago, 36,000 to 63,000 years prior , while Acheulean stone tools date, developed 1.815-1.823 million years ago, were made 55,000 years earlier to what existing evidence suggests.

This discovery was based on a statistical modelling method newly used in archaeology, and provides greater insight into the chronology of human evolution, in addition to their dietary habits and behavior. Oldowan and Acheulea stone technologies helped early humans gain access to new foods, along with preparing animal carcasses.

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Massive Roman Villa From 4th Century With Huge 60ft Mosaic Discovered In Southern Spain

The Roman villa was discovered in the site of El Altillo in Jaen province of southern Spain. (Universidad Jaen/Real Press)

A massive 1,600-year-old Roman villa measuring over 20,000 square feet was discovered in southern Spain.

The villa boasts a huge mosaic measuring over 60 feet long.

The experts think that the villa probably belonged to a rich family that owned numerous farms, which is why they had enough capital to afford such a luxurious mosaic.

The excavations took place at the archeologic site of El Altillo, located in the municipality of Rus, in the southern Spanish province of Jaen, in the Andalusia region, after a few remains from the mosaic were unearthed.

Dr. Jose Luis Serrano Pena, co-director of the Villa El Altillo excavation project, along with Marcos Soto Civantos, decided to do a full-scale dig because the ancient remains were at risk of being destroyed by farmworkers in the area or of being stolen.

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Curule chair found in Roman funeral pyre

The charred remains of a curule chair have been recovered from a 1st century A.D. funeral pyre in the town of Épagny-Metz-Tessy in southeastern France. Archaeologists discovered the remains of two Roman funeral pyres in a salvage excavation before construction of new residential buildings.

The first pyre is the oldest of the two. It contains the remains of a young child between five and eight years old at time of death. The pyre was furnished with a great abundance of goods, including 17 ceramic vessels, 10 bronze vases and four glass vessels containing the remains of food offerings (lentils, beans, pork, rooster, wine). It was the child’s final banquet, and it was a grand one. Other goods were use items — three copper alloy strigils, bone game tokens — and furnishings (the funeral bed, boxes).

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

‘Such a funny little thing’: ‘snail-man’ relic may depict ancient joke

The snail-man has been described as a kind of ‘medieval meme’.
Photograph: Yorkshire Archaeology Advisory Service/PA

Silver-gilt object, announced by British Museum, was discovered in a field near Pontefract last year

Delicately crafted using silver-gilt, it shows a praying knight emerging from a snail on the back of a goat and may be an example of 13th-century Yorkshire satire. Precisely what the joke was may never be known.

“It is very unusual,” said Beverley Nenk, the curator of later medieval collections at the British Museum, which announced its discovery on Monday. “It is such a funny little thing … I haven’t seen anything like it.”

The “snail-man” object, just over 2cm long, was discovered by a metal detectorist in a field near Pontefract, West Yorkshire, in September last year.

The best guess is that its owner commissioned it and wore it as a badge, or attached it to a leather belt or strap.

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Time Team sneak peak as fans bring back beloved TV favourite by popular demand

It was the surprise hit TV show that gripped the nation, making archaeology cool and history fun.

Presented by Sir Tony Robinson, Time Team was watched by people in 41 countries but after 20 years and 224 digs it was axed by Channel 4 in 2014 despite its huge following.

However, fans of the series remained devoted and have now raised enough money through a subscription scheme to bring it back and filming will start this year.

The first dig will take place at a huge Oxfordshire Roman villa owned by Martin Fiennes, a cousin of actors Ralph and Joseph Fiennes and explorer Sir Ranulph.

Time Team creator Tim Taylor said they now have enough funds to start work on two new YouTube episodes, with two more in the pipeline.

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Monday, March 22, 2021

‘Bradford Tooth Fairy’ Solves Mystery of Medieval Priest Teeth

Dr. Julia Beaumont, the Bradford Tooth Fairy, has unraveled the ‘startling history’ behind 800-year-old Medieval priests’ teeth. ( Telegraph & Argus )

The ‘Bradford Tooth Fairy,’ a dentist turned forensic archaeologist, created a new method to discover details of ancient diets, just by looking at people’s teeth. She’s now applied her innovative technique to discover the secrets held within a collection of 800-year-old bones and teeth, providing a ‘startling history’ on the lives of Medieval priests.
The Only Human Remains Found at St Stephen’s Chapel

The ‘Beaumont Method,’ named after its creator, Dr. Julia Beaumont (the Bradford Tooth Fairy), enabled the former dentist of 30 years to solve a puzzle surrounding mismatched bone fragments from nine individuals - the only human remains to have been recovered from St Stephen’s Chapel, which lies beneath  the Palace of Westminster. 

A University of Bradford  press release  states that Dr. Beaumont re-examined “two shoebox-sized collections” of mismatched bones which have been sitting on a shelf at the Museum of London since 1992. The human remains were discovered under the Palace of Westminster in 1992 by the Museum of London Archaeology Services (MoLAS), now called Museum of London Archaeology (MoLA). According to the university’s press release, Dr. Beaumont has created a ‘startling history’ of the stories behind the bones.

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Time Team to dig for Roman villa at Fiennes’ castle

The nation’s favourite history programme Time Team is back on digital platforms - and the first dig will be an enormous Roman villa on the Broughton Estate near Banbury.

The hands-on team of expert archaeologists will be unearthing a building thought to be as large as Buckingham Palace.

There may be mosaics, a bath house and even temples. It is thought it could be one of the biggest discovered in recent times.

The Broughton Estate is owned by Martin Fiennes – a cousin of actors Joseph and Ralph – who coincidentally played archaeologist Basil Brown in the recent Netflix movie The Dig.

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Archaeologists shell-shocked by Iron Age party

The Cairns site, at South Ronaldsay.
Supplied by Martin Carruthers, Lecturer in Archaeology at the Archaeology Institute of the University of the Highlands and Islands in Orkney

As celebratory feasts go, the menu choices do seem to have been rather limited. 

However, new research into an Orkney Iron Age site suggests it was the scene of a massive prehistoric party, which saw the guests tuck into an astonishing amount of limpets and periwinkles. 

More than 18,600 shells were found in a pit at The Cairns site, at South Ronaldsay. 

Now radiocarbon dating technology has shown the pit was used in the fifth or sixth century AD, apparently to cook the shellfish before they were handed out to hungry guests. The shells – all 18,637 of them - were then put carefully back into the pit, perhaps as cooks and guests tidied up after their get-together.

Experts believe the shellfish supper was a single event, presumably attracting a high number of invitees with a hearty appetite for limpets and periwinkles.

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The Ancient Diolkos Of Corinth Undergoing Restoration

The Ancient Diolkos of Corinth, one of the greatest technical works of antiquity, is being restored. Over the last year, the Corinth Ephorate of Antiquities is conducting works of enhancement and protection on the ancient stone paved road on which ships were transported overland from the Corinthian Gulf to the Saronic Gulf and vice versa. Once completed and when allowed by the pandemic situation, the iconic monument will be ready to welcome the general public through on-site tours being planned.

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Gesellschaften im Gleichgewicht

Steinmonumente geben Aufschluss über Sozialstrukturen

Monumente aus Steinen, die von Archäologinnen und Archäologen auch als Megalithen oder Steinsetzungen bezeichnet werden, sind ein in vielen prähistorischen und historischen Perioden und Kulturen verbreitetes Phänomen. Sie begeistern die Öffentlichkeit und Fachleute gleichermaßen, werfen aber auch viele Fragen hinsichtlich ihrer Bedeutung innerhalb der prähistorischen Gesellschaften auf. Die archäologische Forschung geht häufig davon aus, dass die Errichtung der Monumente mit bestimmten sozialen Strukturen verbunden war. Mit der Identifizierung der sozialen Bedeutung der steinernen Monumente in Nordindien befasste sich ein ethnoarchäologisches Forschungsprojekt des Sonderforschungsbereichs (SFB) 1266 "TransformationsDimensionen" an der Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel (CAU). Die erlangten Forschungsergebnisse werfen ein neues Licht auf die Interpretation der Steinmonumente und wurden kürzlich veröffentlicht.

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BAD OMEN World’s 1st cities COLLAPSED due to overpopulation and climate change 4,000 years ago, research shows

The ancient people of Mesopotamia built the world's first cities Credit: Alamy

The cities, now buried in Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon in the ancient region of Mesopotamia, were also struck by plummeting temperatures.

Their inhabitants, an advanced people known as the Mesopotamians, were forced to either abandon their homes or starve to death, researchers write in the journal PLOS One.

Previous studies into the cities, which collapsed around 2100BC, have hinted that a well-documented change in climate was entirely to blame for their downfall.

Dan Lawrence, lead author of the new study and an associate professor in near-Eastern archaeology at Durham University, says otherwise.

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Sunday, March 21, 2021

Long read | The man at Sutton Hoo

Note: This long read was written in 2015. Professor Campbell died in 2016 and his article is published posthumously with full permission and in cooperation with his estate

In 1926 a Colonel and Mrs Pretty bought a big modern house in Suffolk. It stood near Woodbridge on a 100ft bluff, beside the river Deben, with a wide view over the town. A feature of the estate was a group of some (as then appeared) dozen mounds. Mrs Pretty was interested in the possibility of their being burial mounds, and reinforced this plausible supposition by psychic inquiry. In 1938 – by then a widow – she sought the advice of the curator of the Ipswich museum. He put her on to someone who did part-time archaeological work for them, a Mr Basil Brown. Learning owes a lot to Mr Brown. Nowadays there are not so many people like him: with not much of formal education, self-taught, very able, a natural archaeologist. His humble status shows in the terms on which Mrs Pretty employed him: 30 shillings weekly, sleeping accommodation in her chauffeur’s house, the assistance of two labourers. In 1938 Brown set carefully to work on three of the mounds. All three had previously been robbed and damaged. But what he found was interesting indeed: not least the remains of a ship 65 feet long, human and horse remains, and strange things, for example part of a Byzantine plaque of a ‘winged victory’. In 1939 Brown began to dig up the most conspicuous mound. He most carefully felt his way into the discovery of the remains of a ship, a big one, some 90 feet long. Midships were the remains of what he rightly took to be a burial chamber. The great importance of his discoveries became known. In July more professional, academic, archaeologists took over. When the excavation concluded, a week before the Second World War broke out, an astounding burial deposit had been unearthed.

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Roman highway uncovered between Antwerp and West Flanders

Archaeological excavations in Adegem near Maldegem, West Flanders, have uncovered traces of a Roman road linking Antwerp to an important Roman camp. The existence of the road was known, but now for the first time there is archaeological evidence.

The Roman road between Antwerp and the West Flemish municipality of Oudenburg has been discovered during archaeological excavations carried out as part of the construction of a supermarket. The archaeologists started last week and soon found traces of the ancient highway. "The site is right next to the N9 route and we expected to find something here,” said archaeologist Johan Hoorne. “The fact that it really is there is very cool."

"It was one of the most important routes in the wider region," Hoorne continued. "It was a dirt road to Antwerp that ran over the sandy ridge of Oudenburg." In Adegem, two important Roman roads cross. There was the north-south connection that runs from Kerkhove, just over the provincial border in West Flanders, to Aardenburg in Zeeuws-Vlaanderen. And there was also the road between Oudenburg and Antwerp that has now been uncovered. "The Roman roads in the sandy region are not well known because they were not laid out in stone. But that doesn't mean they weren't important," added Hoorne.

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Greek bull figurine unearthed after heavy downpour

The small bull statuette is believed to have been offered to the god Zeus during a sacrifice

A bronze figurine of a bull believed to be at least 2,500 years old has been unearthed in Greece following heavy rain near the ancient site of Olympia.

Burn marks on the statuette suggest it may have been one of thousands of offerings to the Greek god Zeus.

The discovery of the small, intact item was made by archaeologists near a temple, Greece's culture ministry said.

An archaeologist spotted one of the bull's horns sticking out of the mud after a downpour, it added.

The item was immediately transferred to a laboratory for examination.

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Stone anchors found in River Wear could reveal Roman port

The five stone anchors found in the river suggest the vessels could have been part of a trading network

A trove of Roman artefacts has been uncovered in the River Wear which could cast "significant" new light on life in the area nearly 2,000 years ago.

The find, in North Hylton, Sunderland, includes five stone anchors, thought to be the first time they have been discovered in a river.

One theory still to be examined is that it may have been home to a small port.

Underwater archaeologist Gary Bankhead said he could not "over-emphasize" the importance of the discovery.

Although a dam is known to have existed in the area since the Victorian times, if theories are confirmed it would be only the second such port ever discovered in Britain.

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Experts Say First Pre-Human Lived in Northern Greece-Balkan Area

7.2 million-year-old tooth from “Graecopithecus,” found in Azmaka, Bulgaria. Credit: Jochen Fuss, Nikolai Spassov, David R. Begun, Madelaine Böhme/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 4.0

Researchers have found evidence that the link in the lineage of the great apes and humans took place in the Eastern Mediterranean — not in Africa — and that the first pre-human, or hominin, walked in the Northern Greece-Balkans area, according to research published in the scientific journal PLoS One and ScienceDaily.

Up until the time researchers made the discovery, in 2017, scientists had assumed that the lineages diverged five to seven million years ago and that the first pre-humans developed in Africa.

However, an international research team from Germany, Bulgaria, Greece, Canada, France and Australia, headed by Professor Madelaine Bohme from the Senckenberg Centre for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment at the University of Tubingen and Professor Nikolai Spassov from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, believe that human history began a few centuries earlier — and in the general area of the Balkans

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Saturday, March 13, 2021

Scientists Have Unlocked the Secrets of the Ancient 'Antikythera Mechanism'


A digital model has revealed a complex planetarium on the ancient device's face. “Unless it's from outer space, we have to find a way in which the Greeks could have made it,” researchers say.

In the early 1900s, divers hunting for sponges off the coast of Antikythera, a Greek island in the Aegean Sea, discovered a Roman-era shipwreck that contained an artifact destined to dramatically alter our understanding of the ancient world.

Known as the Antikythera Mechanism, the object is a highly sophisticated astronomical calculator that dates back more than 2,000 years. Since its recovery from the shipwreck in 1901, generations of researchers have marveled over its stunning complexity and inscrutable workings, earning it a reputation as the world’s first known analog computer.

The device’s gears and displays cumulatively demonstrated the motions of the planets and the Sun, the phases of the lunar calendar, the position of Zodiac constellations, and even the timing of athletic events such as the ancient Olympic Games. The device also reflects a very ancient idea of the cosmos, with Earth at the center.

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Ancient Greek Antikythera Mechanism recreated by scientists

New model reveals display of 2,000 year-old mechanical device used by the ancient Greeks to predict astronomical events (Tony Freeth/UCL/PA)

An ancient Greek hand-powered mechanical device for predicting astronomical events has been recreated, offering a fresh understanding of how it worked.

The 2,000-year-old Antikythera Mechanism is considered the world’s first analogue computer, used to forecast positions of the sun, moon and the planets, as well as lunar and solar eclipses.

It was first discovered in a Roman-era shipwreck in 1901 by Greek sponge divers near the Mediterranean island of Antikythera.

Only 82 fragments have survived – about a third of the entire astronomical calculator – leaving researchers baffled about its true form and capabilities

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Friday, March 12, 2021

Swedish Viking hoard: how the discovery of single Norman coin expands our knowledge of French history

In the autumn of 2020, I was contacted by the field archaeology unit of the Swedish National Historical Museums, who are also known as the Archaeologists. They were excavating at a Viking-age settlement at Viggbyholm just north of Stockholm. During routine metal detecting of the site, they had located a very exciting find: eight silver necklaces and other silver jewellery along with 12 coins, everything delicately wrapped up in a cloth and deposited in a pot. In other words, a genuine Viking silver hoard.

As a professor in numismatics, the study of currency, I have spent my life becoming an expert in coins, so was called to help them learn more about this exciting discovery. It turned out to be a very interesting find. Most of the coins were the types that we usually see in Sweden: English, Bavarian, Bohemian (Czech) and Islamic coins as well as imitations of Islamic coins. But one of the coins was unusual.

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Thursday, March 11, 2021

Gloucester: Experts to study Roman wall found in city centre

Further work is due to take place at the site to uncover any further details about the "really interesting structure" GLOUCESTER CITY COUNCIL

Archaeologists preparing for a revamp of part of Gloucester city centre have uncovered a Roman wall.

The limestone structure was found 2.1m (6.8ft) below ground level as part of work for the King's Square redevelopment.

Experts say that it is aligned 45 degrees to the city's Roman walls and that it was probably an internal corner tower.

Further work is due to take place at the site to excavate further.

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When unfolded, these ancient gold foil figures reveal embracing couples

Here, the best preserved of the gold foil figures that were recently found at the site of Aska in Sweden. All the figures show couples embracing.
(Image credit: Björn Falkevik)

Archaeologists in Sweden have discovered nearly two dozen gold foil figures that have engravings of couples embracing each other. 

The figures, which date back about 1,300 years, were found in the remains of a great hall on a platform mound, a human-made structure, at the site of Aska in Sweden. The researchers are still trying to piece together the broken figures to uncover more about them.

"Our best estimate is that we have 22 foil figures. The exact number is not quite clear because most are fragmented, and there is some uncertainty as to which fragments go together," Martin Rundkvist, an archaeology professor at the University of Lodz in Poland, wrote in a report recently uploaded to academia.edu, a site where researchers can upload papers. The report has not been published in a peer reviewed journal. 

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Prehistoric Tombs Discovered in Southern Poland

KRAKOW, POLAND—According to a report in The First News, a megalithic cemetery has been discovered by archaeologist Jan Bulas, who first spotted the outlines of an early medieval ditch in satellite images of a cultivated field in southeastern Poland. He and colleague Marcin M. Przybyła then mapped the field with magnetometers and discovered a row of megalithic barrows dating to some 5,500 years ago. They think the site could contain traces of as many as 12 stone-lined tombs measuring between 130 and 165 feet long.

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These Bronze Age women were more powerful than we thought

The Almoloya archaeological site is in southeastern Spain.

Archaeologists working at an ancient complex in southeastern Spain say women probably held political power in the Bronze Age society that ruled the area 4,000 years ago -- a sharp contrast with earlier views of the civilization.

Researchers said women of the ruling class may have been important in governing the El Argar society, the Research Group in Mediterranean Social Archaeoecology at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona said in a news release published Thursday.

The team analyzed grave goods found in a princely tomb in the La Almoloya site, in what is now Murcia.
The tomb, known as Grave 38, contained the remains of two individuals -- a man between the ages of 35 and 40 and a woman between 25 and 30 -- alongside around 30 valuable items, many of which were made from silver.

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Tuesday, March 02, 2021

East wing Hurst Castle that dates back to Henry VIII collapses into the sea after being battered by heavy seas one week before work was due to begin to strengthen its defences

A section of a 16th Century castle built by Henry VIII dramatically collapsed into the sea following bad weather, just days before remedial work was due to start.

Part of the east wing of Hurst Castle near Milford-on-Sea, Lymington, crumbled away on Friday after the sea weakened its foundations, according to English Heritage, which owns the historic tourist spot.

The incident occurred just days before planned works to stabilise the foundations.

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Archaeologists baffled by 'mystery cult' discovery at ancient UK Vindolanda site

Archaeology: The mystery cult was discovered within the ancient Vindolanda fort (Image: GETTY)

The Roman conquest of Britain began almost 2,000 years ago under the leadership of Emperor Claudius. Soldiers from present-day Italy, Spain and France travelled from the continent and piled onto the island. They brought with them a whole range of foreign foodstuffs, culture, music, religion, as well as art.

Much of this has since left the UK.

Some historical residue of the Romans does remain, mostly in the form of ancient forts and structures.

Perhaps the best-known relic from the Empire's time in Britain is Hadrian's Wall.

A mammoth 73 miles long, it spans from the banks of the River Tyne near the North Sea, to the Solway Firth near the Irish Sea.

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Pottery Residues Offer Clues to Malta’s Prehistoric Menu

(Courtesy Davide Tanasi)

RABAT, MALTA—The Times of Malta reports that researchers led by Davide Tanasi of the University of South Florida analyzed residues and traces of proteins found in pottery dated to between 2500 and 700 B.C. at Il-Qlejgha tal-Bahrija, a prehistoric site in Malta’s Northern Region. The study suggests that the residents of Il-Qlejgha tal-Bahrija consumed a porridge made of cow’s milk and cereals such as wheat and barley. Traces of grains were also found in large storage jars similar to those found in Sicily.

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Hominid Footprints on Crete Could Change Evolutionary Theory For Good

Hominid footprints in the stone of Crete could change evolutionary theory altogether. Credit: The Conversation.

He was not looking for hominid footprints from the prehistoric past. Paleontologist Gerhard Gierlinski, from Warsaw, Poland, was just trying to get away from it all in the summer of 2002 and enjoy the warm seas and soft sands on the Greek island of Crete with his girlfriend.
A researcher at the Polish Geological Institute, he was always ready to take samples of interesting things he spied on vacations, and he traveled with a hammer, a camera and a GPS for just such occasions.

What he discovered along the Mediterranean shores of the town of Trachilos would rock his world and send some researchers who were convinced that humans evolved solely in Africa, into angry denial, resulting in many of them casting aspersions on his jaw-dropping find.

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Volunteer researchers wanted for Orkney trade project

The University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute is looking for volunteers to take part in a new project researching early trade in Orkney.

The research is part of the international Looking in from the Edge (LIFTE) project, which is looking at the Northern Isles’ place in European trade networks of the 15th to 18th centuries. The Hanseatic League — an organisation of German merchants that expanded into the North Atlantic in the 15th century – was at the forefront of these networks and although its influence in Shetland has been extensively documented, less is known about the league’s interests in Orkney. And this is where the volunteer researchers come in.

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